Celebrate Fishapalooza, celebrate Alpena

The fish mural on the side of the Local Basket Case downtown has, in our minds, come to symbolize the creative spirit, tenacity, and brother- and sisterhood that makes Alpena the wonderful city that it is.

The mural, known as “Make a Splash for Art,” was a point of community pride when first thought of in 2015, and the city cheered when it was completed in spring 2016.

Then, less than two years later, the city mourned when high winds brought the mural down in October 2017, “leaving an empty wall on the side of the Local Basket Case, and an empty place in the heart of the community,”as Lifestyles editor Darby Hinkley reported last week.

There are places in this world where the community would have given an apathetic shrug and left the wall vacant and injured, a constant reminder of sorrow.

Not so in Alpena.

“Optimism, dedication and cooperation prevailed as the community rallied to revive the ‘Make A Splash for Art’ community mural,” Hinkley reported last week, “with reinstallation completed by lead artist Tony Hendrick in May 2019. Karen Bennett came up with the idea for the project, and generous individuals, businesses and organizations pooled their financial resources, and put in the time and energy to make it happen. Twice.”

That’s right. Hundreds of community members visited Art in the Loft to help paint the oversized fish that make the mural pop, and the city is once again beaming at the colorful work.

Beginning at 9 a.m. July 20 and with a series of events lasting into the afternoon, the mural will be officially rededicated and celebrated at an event called Fishapalooza.

We cheer the resurrection of the mural itself, one of many features that make our city so beautiful.

But what we really celebrate is the spirit of community, the pride of residents in our region, that made that resurrection possible.